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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year endedDecember 31, 2019
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                     to                     
Commission File Number 1-08940
ALTRIA GROUP, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Virginia
 
 
13-3260245
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 
 
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
 
 
 
 
6601 West Broad Street,
Richmond,
Virginia
23230
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Zip Code)

804-274-2200
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Trading Symbols
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $0.33  1/3 par value
MO
New York Stock Exchange
1.000% Notes due 2023
MO23A
New York Stock Exchange
1.700% Notes due 2025
MO25
New York Stock Exchange
2.200% Notes due 2027
MO27
New York Stock Exchange
3.125% Notes due 2031
MO31
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. þ Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ¨ Yes þ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days þ Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files) þ Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
 
þ
 
Accelerated filer
 
Non-accelerated filer
 
 
Smaller reporting company
 
 
 
 
 
Emerging growth company
 
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes þ No
As of June 30, 2019, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $88 billion based on the closing sale price of the common stock as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.
Class                           
Outstanding at February 14, 2020
Common Stock, $0.33  1/3 par value
1,858,366,804

shares
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for use in connection with its annual meeting of shareholders to be held on May 14, 2020, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on or about April 2, 2020, are incorporated by reference into Part III hereof.








 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
 
Page
PART I
 
 
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
 
 
 
PART II
 
 
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
 
 
 
PART III
 
 
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
 
 
 
PART IV
 
 
Item 15.
Item 16.
 
 
 




Table of Contents

Part I
Item 1. Business.
General Development of Business
General: Altria Group, Inc. (“Altria”) is a holding company incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1985. At December 31, 2019, Altria’s wholly-owned subsidiaries included Philip Morris USA Inc. (“PM USA”), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes in the United States; John Middleton Co. (“Middleton”), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of machine-made large cigars and pipe tobacco and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PM USA; Sherman Group Holdings, LLC and its subsidiaries (“Nat Sherman”), which are engaged in the manufacture and sale of super premium cigarettes and the sale of premium cigars; UST LLC (“UST”), which through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, including U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC (“USSTC”) and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. (“Ste. Michelle”), is engaged in the manufacture and sale of smokeless tobacco products and wine; and Philip Morris Capital Corporation (“PMCC”), which maintains a portfolio of finance assets, substantially all of which are leveraged leases. As discussed below, Altria also owns an 80% interest in Helix Innovations LLC (“Helix”), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of on! oral nicotine pouches. In December 2018, Altria refocused its innovative product efforts, which included the discontinuation of production and distribution of all e-vapor products by Nu Mark LLC (“Nu Mark”). Prior to that time, Nu Mark was engaged in the manufacture and sale of innovative tobacco products. Other Altria wholly-owned subsidiaries included Altria Group Distribution Company, which provides sales and distribution services to certain Altria operating subsidiaries, and Altria Client Services LLC (“ALCS”), which provides various support services in areas such as legal, regulatory, consumer engagement, finance, human resources and external affairs to Altria and its subsidiaries.
In January 2017, Altria acquired Nat Sherman, which joined PM USA and Middleton as part of Altria’s smokeable products segment.
During the third quarter of 2019, Helix acquired Burger Söhne Holding and its subsidiaries as well as certain affiliated companies (the “Burger Group”) that are engaged in the manufacture and sale of on! oral nicotine pouches. At closing, Altria indirectly owned an 80% interest in Helix, for which Altria paid $353 million in the third quarter of 2019. The financial results of Helix are included in Altria’s consolidated financial statements as part of its smokeless products segment, with the 20% minority ownership interest in Helix (held by the former shareholders of the Burger Group) included as a noncontrolling interest.
Altria’s reportable segments are smokeable products, smokeless products and wine. The financial services and the innovative tobacco products businesses are included in an all other category due to the continued reduction of the lease portfolio of PMCC and the relative financial contribution of Altria’s innovative tobacco products businesses to Altria’s consolidated results. For further information, see Note 16. Segment Reporting to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Item 8”).
At September 30, 2016, Altria had an approximate 27% ownership of SABMiller plc (“SABMiller”), which Altria accounted for under the equity method of accounting. In October 2016, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV completed its business combination with SABMiller, and Altria received cash and shares representing a 9.6% ownership in the combined company (the “ABI Transaction”). The newly formed Belgian company, which retained the name Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (“ABI”), became the holding company for the combined businesses. Subsequently, Altria purchased approximately 12 million ordinary shares of ABI, increasing Altria’s ownership to approximately 10.2% at December 31, 2016. At December 31, 2019, Altria had a 10.1% ownership in ABI, which Altria accounts for under the equity method of accounting using a one-quarter lag.
In December 2018, Altria, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, purchased shares of non-voting convertible common stock of JUUL Labs, Inc. (“JUUL”), representing a 35% economic interest. JUUL is engaged in the manufacture and sale of e-vapor products globally and is the U.S. leader in e-vapor. At December 31, 2019, Altria had a 35% economic interest in JUUL, which it accounts for as an investment in an equity security.
In March 2019, Altria, through a subsidiary, completed its acquisition of a 45% economic and voting interest in Cronos Group Inc. (“Cronos”), a global cannabinoid company headquartered in Toronto, Canada. At December 31, 2019, Altria had a 45% economic and voting interest in Cronos, which Altria accounts for under the equity method of accounting using a one-quarter lag.
For further discussion of Altria’s investments in equity securities, see Note 7. Investments in Equity Securities to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 (“Note 7”).
Source of Funds: Because Altria is a holding company, its access to the operating cash flows of its wholly-owned subsidiaries consists of cash received from the payment of dividends and distributions, and the payment of interest on intercompany loans by its subsidiaries. In addition, Altria receives cash dividends on its interest in ABI and will continue to do so as long as ABI pays dividends.
Narrative Description of Business
Portions of the information called for by this Item are included in Operating Results by Business Segment in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations of this Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Item 7”).


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Tobacco Space
Altria’s tobacco operating companies include PM USA, USSTC and other subsidiaries of UST, Middleton, Nat Sherman and Helix. Altria Group Distribution Company provides sales and distribution services to Altria’s tobacco operating companies.
The products of Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries include (i) smokeable tobacco products, consisting of combustible cigarettes manufactured and sold by PM USA and Nat Sherman, machine-made large cigars and pipe tobacco manufactured and sold by Middleton and premium cigars sold by Nat Sherman; and (ii) smokeless tobacco products, consisting of moist smokeless tobacco (“MST”) and snus products manufactured and sold by USSTC, and oral nicotine pouches manufactured and sold by Helix.
Cigarettes: PM USA is the largest cigarette company in the United States. Marlboro, the principal cigarette brand of PM USA, has been the largest-selling cigarette brand in the United States for the past 45 years. Nat Sherman sells substantially all of its super premium cigarettes in the United States. Total smokeable products segment’s cigarettes shipment volume in the United States was 101.8 billion units in 2019, a decrease of 7.3% from 2018.
Cigars: Middleton is engaged in the manufacture and sale of machine-made large cigars and pipe tobacco. Middleton contracts with a third-party importer to supply a majority of its cigars and sells substantially all of its cigars to customers in the United States. Black & Mild is the principal cigar brand of Middleton. Nat Sherman sources all of its cigars from third-party suppliers and sells substantially all of its cigars to customers in the United States. Total smokeable products segment’s cigars shipment volume was approximately 1.7 billion units in 2019, an increase of 3.1% from 2018.
Smokeless tobacco products: USSTC is the leading producer and marketer of MST products. The smokeless products segment includes the premium brands, Copenhagen and Skoal, and value brands, Red Seal and Husky, sold by USSTC. In addition, the smokeless products segment includes on! oral nicotine pouches sold by Helix. Substantially all of the smokeless tobacco products are manufactured and sold to customers in the United States. Total smokeless products segment’s shipment volume was 807.0 million units in 2019, a decrease of 3.1% from 2018.
Innovative tobacco products: In December 2013, Altria’s subsidiaries entered into a series of agreements with Philip Morris International Inc. (“PMI”), including an agreement that grants Altria an exclusive right to commercialize certain of PMI’s heated tobacco products in the United States, subject to the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) authorization of the applicable products. PMI submitted a pre-market tobacco product application (“PMTA”) and modified risk tobacco product application with the FDA for its electronically heated tobacco product, IQOS. In April 2019, the FDA authorized the PMTA for IQOS, which PM USA currently sells in limited U.S. markets.
In December 2018, Altria refocused its innovative product efforts, which included the discontinuation of production and distribution of all e-vapor products by Nu Mark. Prior to that time, Nu Mark was engaged in the manufacture and sale of innovative tobacco products.
Distribution, Competition and Raw Materials: Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries sell their tobacco products principally to wholesalers (including distributors) and large retail organizations, including chain stores.
The market for tobacco products is highly competitive, characterized by brand recognition and loyalty, with product quality, taste, price, product innovation, marketing, packaging and distribution constituting the significant methods of competition. Promotional activities include, in certain instances and where permitted by law, allowances, the distribution of incentive items, price promotions, product promotions, coupons and other discounts.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (“FSPTCA”) provides the FDA with broad authority to regulate the design, manufacture, packaging, advertising, promotion, sale and distribution of tobacco products; the authority to require disclosures of related information; and the authority to enforce the FSPTCA and related regulations. The FSPTCA went into effect in 2009 for cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and smokeless tobacco products and in August 2016 for all other tobacco products, including cigars, e-vapor products, pipe tobacco and oral nicotine products (“Other Tobacco Products”). The FSPTCA imposes restrictions on the advertising, promotion, sale and distribution of tobacco products, including at retail. PM USA, Middleton, Nat Sherman and USSTC are subject to quarterly user fees as a result of the FSPTCA. Their respective FDA user fee amounts are determined by an allocation formula administered by the FDA that is based on the respective market shares of manufacturers and importers of each kind of tobacco product. PM USA, Nat Sherman, USSTC and other U.S. tobacco manufacturers have agreed to other marketing restrictions in the United States as part of the settlements of state health care cost recovery actions. For further discussion of these restrictions, see Tobacco Space - Business Environment in Item 7.
In the United States, under a contract growing program, PM USA purchases the majority of its burley and flue-cured leaf tobaccos directly from domestic tobacco growers. Under the terms of this program, PM USA agrees to purchase the amount of tobacco specified in the grower contracts that meets PM USA’s grade and quality standards. PM USA also purchases a portion of its tobacco requirements through leaf merchants.
Nat Sherman purchases its tobacco requirements through leaf merchants.
USSTC purchases dark fire-cured, dark air-cured and burley leaf tobaccos from domestic tobacco growers under a contract growing program as well as from leaf merchants.


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Middleton purchases burley, dark air-cured and flue-cured leaf tobaccos through leaf merchants. Middleton does not have a contract growing program.
Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries believe there is an adequate supply of tobacco in the world markets to satisfy their current and anticipated production requirements. See Item 1A. Risk Factors of this Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Item 1A”) and Tobacco Space - Business Environment - Price, Availability and Quality of Tobacco, Other Raw Materials and Component Parts in Item 7 for a discussion of risks associated with tobacco supply.
Wine
Ste. Michelle is a producer and supplier of premium varietal and blended table wines and of sparkling wines. Ste. Michelle is a leading producer of Washington state wines, primarily Chateau Ste. Michelle and 14 Hands, and owns wineries in or distributes wines from several other domestic and foreign wine regions. Ste. Michelle’s total 2019 wine shipment volume of approximately 8.3 million cases increased 0.6% from 2018.
Ste. Michelle holds an 85% ownership interest in Michelle-Antinori, LLC, which owns Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. Ste. Michelle also owns Conn Creek in Napa Valley, Patz & Hall in Sonoma and Erath in Oregon. In addition, Ste. Michelle imports and markets Antinori and Villa Maria Estate wines and Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte in the United States.
Distribution, Competition and Raw Materials: Key elements of Ste. Michelle’s strategy are expanded domestic distribution of its wines, especially in certain account categories such as restaurants, wholesale clubs, supermarkets, wine shops and mass merchandisers, and a focus on improving product mix to higher-priced, premium products.
Ste. Michelle’s business is subject to significant competition, including competition from many larger, well-established domestic and international companies, as well as from many smaller wine producers. Wine segment competition is primarily based on quality, price, consumer and trade wine tastings, competitive wine judging, third-party acclaim and advertising. Substantially all of Ste. Michelle’s sales occur in the United States through state-licensed distributors. Ste. Michelle also sells to domestic consumers through retail and e-commerce channels and exports wines to international distributors.
Adult consumer preferences among alcohol categories and within the wine category can shift due to a variety of factors, including changes in taste preferences, demographics or social trends, and changes in leisure, dining and beverage consumption patterns. Evolving adult consumer preferences pose challenges to the wine category, which has seen slowing volume growth in the premium wine category and increases in inventory levels.
Federal, state and local governmental agencies regulate the beverage alcohol industry through various means, including licensing requirements, pricing rules, labeling and advertising restrictions, and distribution and production policies. Further regulatory restrictions or additional excise or other taxes on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages could have an adverse effect on Ste. Michelle’s wine business.
Ste. Michelle uses grapes harvested from its own vineyards or purchased from independent growers, as well as bulk wine purchased from other sources. Grape production can be adversely affected by weather and other forces that may limit production. At the present time, Ste. Michelle believes that there is a sufficient supply of grapes and bulk wine available in the market to satisfy its current and expected production requirements. See Item 1A for a discussion of risks associated with competition, consumer preferences, unfavorable changes in grape supply and governmental regulations.
Financial Services Business
In 2003, PMCC ceased making new investments and began focusing exclusively on managing its portfolio of finance assets in order to maximize its operating results and cash flows from its existing lease portfolio activities and asset sales.
Other Matters
Customers: The largest customer of PM USA, USSTC, Helix, Middleton and Nat Sherman, McLane Company, Inc., accounted for approximately 25%, 27% and 26% of Altria’s consolidated net revenues for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. In addition, Core-Mark Holding Company, Inc. accounted for approximately 15%, 14% and 14% of Altria’s consolidated net revenues for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Substantially all of these net revenues were reported in the smokeable products and smokeless products segments.
Sales to two distributors accounted for approximately 67% and 64% of net revenues for the wine segment for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Sales to three distributors accounted for approximately 67% of net revenues for the wine segment for the year ended December 31, 2017.
Employees: At December 31, 2019, Altria and its subsidiaries employed approximately 7,300 people.
Executive Officers of Altria: The disclosure regarding executive officers is included in Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance - Information about Our Executive Officers as of February 14, 2020 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


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Intellectual Property: Trademarks are of material importance to Altria and its operating companies, and are protected by registration or otherwise. In addition, as of December 31, 2019, the portfolio of approximately 1,150 United States patents owned by Altria’s businesses, as a whole, was material to Altria and its tobacco businesses. However, no one patent or group of related patents was material to Altria’s business or its tobacco businesses as of December 31, 2019. Altria’s businesses also have proprietary trade secrets, technology, know-how, processes and other intellectual property rights that are protected by appropriate confidentiality measures. Certain trade secrets are material to Altria and its tobacco and wine businesses.
Environmental Regulation: Altria and its subsidiaries (and former subsidiaries) are subject to various federal, state and local laws and regulations concerning the discharge of materials into the environment, or otherwise related to environmental protection, including, in the United States: The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (commonly known as “Superfund”), which can impose joint and several liability on each responsible party. Subsidiaries (and former subsidiaries) of Altria are involved in several matters subjecting them to potential costs of remediation and natural resource damages under Superfund or other laws and regulations. Altria’s subsidiaries expect to continue to make capital and other expenditures in connection with environmental laws and regulations. As discussed in Note 2. Summary of Significant Accounting Policies to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 (“Note 2”), Altria provides for expenses associated with environmental remediation obligations on an undiscounted basis when such amounts are probable and can be reasonably estimated. Such accruals are adjusted as new information develops or circumstances change. Other than those amounts, it is not possible to reasonably estimate the cost of any environmental remediation and compliance efforts that subsidiaries of Altria may undertake in the future. In the opinion of management, however, compliance with environmental laws and regulations, including the payment of any remediation costs or damages and the making of related expenditures, has not had, and is not expected to have, a material adverse effect on Altria’s consolidated results of operations, capital expenditures, financial position or cash flows.
Available Information
Altria is required to file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).
Altria makes available free of charge on or through its website (www.altria.com) its Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), as soon as reasonably practicable after Altria electronically files such material with, or furnishes it to, the SEC. Investors can access Altria’s filings with the SEC by visiting www.altria.com/secfilings.
The information on the respective websites of Altria and its subsidiaries is not, and shall not be deemed to be, a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or incorporated into any other filings Altria makes with the SEC.
Item 1A. Risk Factors.
The following risk factors should be read carefully in connection with evaluating our business and the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Any of the following risks could materially adversely affect our business, our results of operations, our cash flows, our financial position and the actual outcome of matters as to which forward-looking statements are made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We (1) may from time to time make written or oral forward-looking statements, including earnings guidance and other statements contained in filings with the SEC, reports to security holders, press releases and investor webcasts. You can identify these forward-looking statements by use of words such as “strategy,” “expects,” “continues,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “will,” “estimates,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “projects,” “goals,” “objectives,” “guidance,” “targets” and other words of similar meaning. You can also identify them by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts.
We cannot guarantee that any forward-looking statement will be realized, although we believe we have been prudent in our plans, estimates and assumptions. Achievement of future results is subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions that may prove to be inaccurate. Should known or unknown risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying estimates or assumptions prove inaccurate, actual results could vary materially from those anticipated, estimated or projected. You should bear this in mind as you consider forward-looking statements and whether to invest in or remain invested in Altria’s securities. In connection with the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are identifying important factors that, individually or in the aggregate, could cause actual results and outcomes to differ materially from those contained in, or implied by, any forward-looking statements made by us; any such statement is qualified by reference to the following cautionary statements. We elaborate on these and other risks we face throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K particularly in the “Business Environment” sections preceding our discussion of the operating results of our subsidiaries’ businesses below in Item 7. You should understand that it is not possible to predict or identify all risk factors. Consequently, you should not consider the following to be a complete discussion of all potential risks or uncertainties. We do not undertake to update any forward-looking statement that we may make from time to time except as required by applicable law.
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(1) This section uses the terms “we,” “our” and “us” when it is not necessary to distinguish among Altria and its various operating subsidiaries or when any distinction is clear from the context.


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Unfavorable litigation outcomes could materially adversely affect the consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria or the businesses of one or more of its subsidiaries or investees.
Legal proceedings covering a wide range of matters are pending or threatened in various United States and foreign jurisdictions against Altria and its subsidiaries, including PM USA and USSTC, as well as their respective indemnitees and Altria’s investees. Various types of claims may be raised in these proceedings, including product liability, unfair trade practices, antitrust, tax, contraband-related claims, patent infringement, employment matters, claims for contribution and claims of competitors, shareholders and distributors.
Litigation is subject to uncertainty and it is possible that there could be adverse developments in pending or future cases. An unfavorable outcome or settlement of pending tobacco-related or other litigation could encourage the commencement of additional litigation. Damages claimed in some tobacco-related or other litigation are significant and, in certain cases, have ranged in the billions of dollars. The variability in pleadings in multiple jurisdictions, together with the actual experience of management in litigating claims, demonstrate that the monetary relief that may be specified in a lawsuit bears little relevance to the ultimate outcome.
In certain cases, plaintiffs claim that defendants’ liability is joint and several. In such cases, Altria or its subsidiaries may face the risk that one or more co-defendants decline or otherwise fail to participate in the bonding required for an appeal or to pay their proportionate or jury-allocated share of a judgment.  As a result, Altria or its subsidiaries under certain circumstances may have to pay more than their proportionate share of any bonding- or judgment-related amounts. Furthermore, in those cases where plaintiffs are successful, Altria or its subsidiaries may also be required to pay interest and attorneys’ fees.
Although PM USA has historically been able to obtain required bonds or relief from bonding requirements in order to prevent plaintiffs from seeking to collect judgments while adverse verdicts have been appealed, there remains a risk that such relief may not be obtainable in all cases. This risk has been substantially reduced given that 47 states and Puerto Rico now limit the dollar amount of bonds or require no bond at all. As discussed in Note 19. Contingencies to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 (“Note 19”), tobacco litigation plaintiffs have challenged the constitutionality of Florida’s bond cap statute in several cases and plaintiffs may challenge state bond cap statutes in other jurisdictions as well. Such challenges may include the applicability of state bond caps in federal court. Although we cannot predict the outcome of such challenges, it is possible that the consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria, or the businesses of one or more of its subsidiaries or investees, could be materially adversely affected in a particular fiscal quarter or fiscal year by an unfavorable outcome of one or more such challenges.
In certain litigation, Altria, its subsidiaries and its investees may face potentially significant non-monetary remedies. For example, in the lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice, discussed in detail in Note 19, the district court did not impose monetary penalties but ordered significant non-monetary remedies, including the issuance of “corrective statements.”
Additionally, the on! transaction, discussed in Note 1. Background and Basis of Presentation to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 (“Note 1”), is the subject of pending arbitration. An unfavorable decision could adversely affect Helix’s ability to compete effectively with oral nicotine pouches.
In 2019, we determined that our investment in JUUL was impaired in part due to the increase in the number and type of legal cases pending against JUUL, especially in the fourth quarter of 2019. This impairment and the risks associated with our JUUL investment are discussed further in The expected benefits of the JUUL transaction may not materialize in the expected manner or timeframe or at all.
Altria and its subsidiaries have achieved substantial success in managing litigation. Nevertheless, litigation is subject to uncertainty, and significant challenges remain.
It is possible that the consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria, or the businesses of one or more of its subsidiaries or investees, could be materially adversely affected in a particular fiscal quarter or fiscal year by an unfavorable outcome or settlement of certain pending litigation. Altria and each of its subsidiaries named as a defendant believe, and each has been so advised by counsel handling the respective cases, that it has valid defenses to the litigation pending against it, as well as valid bases for appeal of adverse verdicts. Each of the companies has defended, and will continue to defend, vigorously against litigation challenges. However, Altria and its subsidiaries may enter into settlement discussions in particular cases if they believe it is in the best interests of Altria to do so. See Item 3. Legal Proceedings of this Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Item 3”), Note 19 and Exhibits 99.1 and 99.2 to this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of pending tobacco-related litigation.
Significant federal, state and local governmental actions, including actions by the FDA, and various private sector actions may continue to have an adverse impact on us and our tobacco subsidiaries’ or our investees’ businesses and sales volumes.
As described in Tobacco Space - Business Environment in Item 7, our cigarette subsidiaries face significant governmental and private sector actions, including efforts aimed at reducing the incidence of tobacco use and efforts seeking to hold these subsidiaries responsible for the adverse health effects associated with both smoking and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. These actions, combined with the diminishing social acceptance of smoking, have resulted in reduced cigarette industry volume, and we expect that these factors will continue to reduce cigarette consumption levels.
More broadly, actions by the FDA and other federal, state or local governments or agencies, including those specific actions described in Tobacco Space - Business Environment in Item 7, may impact the adult tobacco consumer acceptability of or access to tobacco products


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(for example, through product standards that may be proposed by the FDA for nicotine and flavors), limit adult tobacco consumer choices, delay or prevent the launch of new or modified tobacco products or products with claims of reduced risk, require the recall or other removal of tobacco products from the marketplace (for example as a result of product contamination, rulemaking that bans menthol or other flavors, a determination by the FDA that one or more tobacco products do not satisfy the statutory requirements for substantial equivalence, because the FDA requires that a currently marketed tobacco product proceed through the pre-market review process or because the FDA otherwise determines that removal is necessary for the protection of public health), restrict communications to adult tobacco consumers, restrict the ability to differentiate tobacco products, create a competitive advantage or disadvantage for certain tobacco companies, impose additional manufacturing, labeling or packing requirements, interrupt manufacturing or otherwise significantly increase the cost of doing business, or restrict or prevent the use of specified tobacco products in certain locations or the sale of tobacco products by certain retail establishments. Any one or more of these actions may have a material adverse impact on the business, consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria and its tobacco subsidiaries, including adversely affecting Altria’s investment in JUUL. See Tobacco Space - Business Environment in Item 7 for a more detailed discussion.
Tobacco products are subject to substantial taxation, which could have an adverse impact on sales of the tobacco products of Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries.
Tobacco products are subject to substantial excise taxes, and significant increases in tobacco product-related taxes or fees have been proposed or enacted and are likely to continue to be proposed or enacted within the United States at the federal, state and local levels. Tax increases are expected to continue to have an adverse impact on sales of the tobacco products of our tobacco subsidiaries through lower consumption levels and the potential shift in adult consumer purchases from the premium to the non-premium or discount segments or to other low-priced or low-taxed tobacco products or to counterfeit and contraband products. Such shifts may have an adverse impact on the reported share performance of tobacco products of Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries. For further discussion, see Tobacco Space - Business Environment - Excise Taxes in Item 7.
Our tobacco businesses face significant competition (including across categories) and their failure to compete effectively could have an adverse effect on the consolidated results of operations or cash flows of Altria, or the business of Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries.
Each of Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries operates in highly competitive tobacco categories. This competition also exists across categories as adult tobacco consumer preferences evolve. Significant methods of competition include product quality, taste, price, product innovation, marketing, packaging, distribution and promotional activities. This highly competitive environment could negatively impact the profitability, market share and shipment volume of our tobacco subsidiaries, which could have an adverse effect on the consolidated results of operations or cash flows of Altria. See Tobacco Space - Business Environment - Summary in Item 7 for additional discussion concerning evolving adult tobacco consumer preferences, including e-vapor products. Growth of the e-vapor product category and other innovative tobacco products has further contributed to reductions in cigarette consumption levels and cigarette industry sales volume and has adversely affected the growth rates of other tobacco products. Continued growth in these categories could have a material adverse impact on the business, results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria and its tobacco subsidiaries.
PM USA also faces competition from lower-priced brands sold by certain United States and foreign manufacturers that have cost advantages because they are not parties to settlements of certain tobacco litigation in the United States. These settlements, among other factors, resulted in substantial cigarette price increases. These manufacturers may fail to comply with related state escrow legislation or may avoid escrow deposit obligations on the majority of their sales by concentrating on certain states where escrow deposits are not required or are required on fewer than all such manufacturers’ cigarettes sold in such states. Additional competition has resulted from diversion into the United States market of cigarettes intended for sale outside the United States, the sale of counterfeit cigarettes by third parties, the sale of cigarettes by third parties over the Internet and by other means designed to avoid collection of applicable taxes, and imports of foreign lower-priced brands. USSTC faces significant competition in the smokeless tobacco category and has experienced consumer down-trading to lower-priced brands.
Altria and its subsidiaries may be unsuccessful in anticipating changes in adult consumer preferences, responding to changes in consumer purchase behavior or managing through difficult competitive and economic conditions, which could have an adverse effect on the consolidated results of operations and cash flows of Altria or the business of Altria’s tobacco and wine subsidiaries.
Each of our tobacco and wine subsidiaries is subject to intense competition and changes in adult consumer preferences. To be successful, they must continue to:
promote brand equity successfully;
anticipate and respond to new and evolving adult consumer preferences;
develop, manufacture, market and distribute new and innovative products that appeal to adult consumers (including, where appropriate, through arrangements with, or investments in, third parties);
improve productivity; and
protect or enhance margins through cost savings and price increases.


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See Tobacco Space - Business Environment - Summary in Item 7 and the immediately preceding risk factor for additional discussion concerning evolving adult tobacco consumer preferences, specifically the growth of e-vapor and other innovative tobacco products and the effects on our tobacco operating companies.
See Wine Segment - Business Environment - Summary in Item 7 for additional discussion concerning evolving adult alcohol consumer preferences; specifically the slowing of the premium wine category and the effects on our wine subsidiaries.
The willingness of adult consumers to purchase premium consumer product brands depends in part on economic conditions. In periods of economic uncertainty, adult consumers may purchase more discount brands and/or, in the case of tobacco products, consider lower-priced tobacco products, which could have a material adverse effect on the business, consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria and its subsidiaries. While our tobacco and wine subsidiaries work to broaden their brand portfolios to compete effectively with lower-priced products, the failure to do so could negatively impact our companies’ ability to compete in these circumstances.
Our financial services business (conducted through PMCC) holds investments in finance leases, principally in transportation (including aircraft), power generation, real estate and manufacturing equipment. Its lessees are subject to significant competition and uncertain economic conditions. If parties to PMCC’s leases fail to manage through difficult economic and competitive conditions, PMCC may have to increase its allowance for losses, which would adversely affect our earnings.
Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries and investees may be unsuccessful in developing and commercializing adjacent products or processes, including innovative tobacco products that may reduce the health risks associated with current tobacco products and that appeal to adult tobacco consumers, which may have an adverse effect on their ability to grow new revenue streams and/or put them at a competitive disadvantage.
Altria and its subsidiaries have growth strategies involving moves and potential moves into adjacent products or processes, including innovative tobacco products. Some innovative tobacco products may reduce the health risks associated with current tobacco products, while continuing to offer adult tobacco consumers (within and outside the United States) products that meet their taste expectations and evolving preferences. Examples include tobacco-containing and nicotine-containing products that reduce or eliminate exposure to cigarette smoke and/or constituents identified by public health authorities as harmful, such as electronically heated tobacco products, oral nicotine pouches such as Helix’s on! products, and e-vapor products. In addition to internal product development, these efforts include arrangements with, or investments in, third parties such as our exclusive arrangement with PMI to sell IQOS and related heatstick products in the United States, which is dependent upon our continued ability to license these products from PMI, and our minority investment in JUUL. Our minority investment in JUUL subjects us to non-competition obligations restricting us from investing or engaging in the e-vapor business other than through JUUL, subject to certain exceptions. Our tobacco subsidiaries and investees may not succeed in their efforts to develop and commercialize these adjacent products, which would have an adverse effect on the ability to grow new revenue streams.
Further, we cannot predict whether regulators, including the FDA, will permit the marketing or sale of innovative products (including products with claims of reduced risk to adult consumers), the speed with which they may make such determinations or whether regulators will impose an unduly burdensome regulatory framework on such products. See Tobacco Space - Business Environment - FSPTCA and FDA Regulation in Item 7 for further discussion. Nor can we predict whether these products will appeal to adult tobacco consumers or whether adult tobacco consumers’ purchasing decisions would be affected by reduced-risk claims on such products if permitted. Adverse developments on any of these matters could negatively impact the commercial viability of such products.
If our tobacco subsidiaries or investees do not succeed in their efforts to develop and commercialize innovative tobacco products or to obtain regulatory approval for the marketing or sale of products, including with claims of reduced risk, but one or more of their competitors does succeed, our tobacco subsidiaries or investees may be at a competitive disadvantage, which could have an adverse effect on their financial performance.
Significant changes in price, availability or quality of tobacco, other raw materials or component parts could have an adverse effect on the profitability and business of Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries.
Any significant change in prices, quality or availability of tobacco, other raw materials or component parts could adversely affect our tobacco subsidiaries’ profitability and business. For further discussion, see Tobacco Space - Business Environment - Price, Availability and Quality of Tobacco, Other Raw Materials and Component Parts in Item 7.
Because Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries rely on a few significant facilities and a small number of key suppliers, an extended disruption at a facility or in service by a supplier could have a material adverse effect on the business, the consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria and its tobacco subsidiaries.
Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries face risks inherent in reliance on a few significant facilities and a small number of key suppliers. For example, the Richmond, Virginia manufacturing facility is the primary facility for manufacturing all PM USA cigarettes and some of our other tobacco products. A natural or man-made disaster or other disruption that affects the manufacturing operations of any of Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries, the operations of any key supplier of any of Altria’s tobacco subsidiaries or any other disruption in the supply of goods or services from a key supplier (including a key supplier’s inability to comply with government regulations or unwillingness to supply goods or services to a tobacco company) could adversely impact the operations of the affected subsidiaries. An extended disruption in operations experienced


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by one or more of Altria’s subsidiaries or in the supply of goods or services by a key supplier could have a material adverse effect on the business, the consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria and its tobacco subsidiaries.
Altria’s subsidiaries could decide or be required to recall products, which could have a material adverse effect on the business, reputation, consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria and its subsidiaries.
In addition to a recall required by the FDA, as referenced above, our subsidiaries could decide, or other laws or regulations could require them, to recall products due to the failure to meet quality standards or specifications, suspected or confirmed and deliberate or unintentional product contamination, or other adulteration, product misbranding or product tampering. Product recalls could have a material adverse effect on the business, reputation, consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria and its subsidiaries.
The failure of Altria’s information systems or service providers’ information systems to function as intended, or cyber-attacks or security breaches, could have a material adverse effect on the business, reputation, consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial position of Altria and its subsidiaries.
Altria and its subsidiaries rely extensively on information systems, many of which are managed by third-party service providers (such as cloud providers), to support a variety of business processes and activities, including: complying with regulatory, legal, financial reporting and tax requirements; engaging in marketing and e-commerce activities; managing and improving the effectiveness of our operations; manufacturing and distributing our products; collecting and storing sensitive data and confidential information; and communicating internally and externally with employees, investors, suppliers, trade customers, adult consumers and others. We continue to make investments in administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect our information systems and data from cyber-threats, including human error and malicious acts. Our safeguards include employee training, testing and auditing protocols, backup systems and business continuity plans, maintenance of security policies and procedures, monitoring of networks and systems, and third-party risk management.
To date, interruptions of our information systems have been infrequent and have not had a material impact on our operations. However, because technology is increasingly complex and cyber-attacks are increasingly sophisticated and more frequent, there can be no assurance that such incidents will not have a material adverse effect on us in the future. Failure of our systems or service providers’ systems to function as intended, or cyber-attacks or security breaches, could result in loss of revenue, assets, personal data, intellectual property, trade secrets or other sensitive and confidential data, violation of applicable privacy and data security laws, damage to the reputation of our companies and their brands, operational disruptions, legal challenges and significant remediation and other costs to Altria and its subsidiaries.
Unfavorable outcomes of any governmental investigations could materially affect the businesses of Altria and its subsidiaries or its investees.
From time to time, Altria, its subsidiaries and its investees are subject to governmental investigations on a range of matters. For further discussion, see Tobacco Space - Business Environment - Other International, Federal, State and Local Regulation and Governmental and Private Activity in Item 7. We cannot predict the outcome of any such investigation, and it is possible that our business or the businesses of our investees could be materially adversely affected by an unfavorable outcome of a future investigation.
A challenge to our tax positions could adversely affect our tax rate, earnings or cash flow.
Tax laws and regulations, such as the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Reform Act”), are complex and subject to varying interpretations. A successful challenge to one or more of Altria’s tax positions could give rise to additional liabilities, including interest and potential penalties, as well as adversely affect our tax rate, earnings or cash flows.
International business operations subject Altria and its subsidiaries to various United States and foreign laws and regulations, and violations of such laws or regulations could result in reputational harm, legal challenges and/or significant costs.
While Altria and its subsidiaries are primarily engaged in business activities in the United States, they do engage (directly or indirectly) in certain international business activities that are subject to various United States and foreign laws and regulations, such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other laws prohibiting bribery and corruption.  Although we have a Code of Conduct and a compliance system designed to prevent and detect violations of applicable law, no system can provide assurance that it will always protect against improper actions by employees, investees or third parties. Violations of these laws, or allegations of such violations, could result in reputational harm, legal challenges and/or significant costs.
Altria may be unable to attract and retain the best talent due to the impact of decreasing social acceptance of tobacco usage and tobacco control actions.
Our ability to implement our strategy of attracting and retaining the best talent may be impaired by the impact of decreasing social acceptance of tobacco usage and tobacco regulation and control actions. The tobacco industry competes for talent with the consumer products industry and other companies that enjoy greater societal acceptance.  As a result, we may be unable to attract and retain the best talent.
Acquisitions or other events may adversely affect Altria’s credit rating, and Altria may not achieve its anticipated strategic or financial objectives of a transaction.
From time to time, Altria considers acquisitions, investments or dispositions and may engage in confidential negotiations that are not publicly announced unless and until those negotiations result in a definitive agreement. Although we seek to maintain or improve our credit ratings


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over time, it is possible that completing a given acquisition, investment, disposition or the occurrence of other events could negatively impact our credit ratings or the outlook for those ratings as occurred following our investment in JUUL (although we continue to maintain investment grade ratings). Any such change in ratings or outlook may negatively affect the amount of credit available to us and also may increase our costs and adversely affect our earnings or our dividend rate. Furthermore, acquisition opportunities are limited, and acquisitions present risks of failing to achieve efficient and effective integration, strategic objectives and anticipated revenue improvements and cost savings. There can be no assurance that we will be able to acquire attractive businesses on favorable terms or that we will realize any of the anticipated benefits from an acquisition or an investment. Additionally, there can be no assurance that we will be able to dispose of our businesses or investments on favorable terms, which may result in a loss in Altria’s consolidated statements of earnings.
Disruption and uncertainty in the credit and capital markets could adversely affect Altria’s access to these markets, earnings and dividend rate.
Access to the credit and capital markets is important for us to satisfy our liquidity and financing needs. Disruption and uncertainty in these markets and any resulting adverse impact on credit availability, pricing, credit terms or credit rating may negatively affect the amount of credit available to us and may also increase our costs and adversely affect our earnings or our dividend rate.
Altria may be required to write down intangible assets, including goodwill, due to impairment, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial position.
We periodically calculate the fair value of our reporting units and intangible assets to test for impairment. This calculation may be affected by several factors, including general economic conditions, regulatory developments, changes in category growth rates as a result of changing adult consumer preferences, success of planned new product introductions, competitive activity and tobacco-related taxes. Certain events also can trigger an immediate review of intangible assets. If an impairment is determined to exist in either situation, we will incur impairment losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial position. In the fourth quarter of 2018, Altria incurred $209 million in goodwill and other intangible asset impairment charges related to Altria’s decision to refocus its innovative product efforts and the impairment of the Columbia Crest trademark. In the fourth quarter of 2019, in the wine segment, Altria determined that the goodwill of $74 million was fully impaired as the wine reporting unit was impacted by a slowing growth rate in the premium wine category and higher inventory levels. (See Note 4. Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets, net to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 (“Note 4”) for further discussion).
Competition, changes in adult consumer preferences, unfavorable changes in grape supply and new governmental regulations or revisions to existing governmental regulations could adversely affect Ste. Michelle’s wine business.
Ste. Michelle’s business is subject to significant competition, including from many large, well-established domestic and international companies.  Ste. Michelle’s business also is impacted by evolving adult consumer preferences. Shifts away from the wine category to other alcohol categories or shifts to lower-priced wines have resulted, and could continue to result, in slowing growth in Ste. Michelle’s sales and higher inventory levels and have an adverse effect on Ste. Michelle’s wine business. The adequacy of Ste. Michelle’s grape supply is influenced by consumer demand for wine in relation to industry-wide production levels as well as by weather and crop conditions, particularly in eastern Washington. Supply shortages or surpluses related to any one or more of these factors could impact production costs and wine prices, which ultimately may have a negative impact on Ste. Michelle’s sales. In addition, federal, state and local governmental agencies regulate the alcohol beverage industry through various means, including licensing requirements, pricing, labeling and advertising restrictions, and distribution and production policies. New regulations or revisions to existing regulations, resulting in further restrictions or taxes on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages may have an adverse effect on Ste. Michelle’s wine business. For further discussion, see Wine Segment - Business Environment in Item 7.
Antitrust clearance required for the conversion of our non-voting JUUL shares into voting shares may not be obtained in a timely manner or at all.
Antitrust clearance required for the conversion of the non-voting JUUL shares held by us into voting shares may not be obtained in a timely manner or at all, and such clearance may be subject to unanticipated conditions. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) may challenge the investment through litigation or administrative proceedings, potentially seeking a range of resolutions, such as modifications to the investment structure or economic terms, up to divestiture of the investment. In April 2019, Altria and JUUL received a request for additional information (commonly referred to as a “second request”) from the FTC as part of the antitrust review process. A second request extends the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (the “HSR Act”), while the FTC conducts its review, until 30 days after the parties have substantially complied with the second request or as otherwise agreed to by the parties. As of October 30, 2019, Altria and JUUL certified substantial compliance with the second request. Based on the timing agreement among Altria, JUUL and the FTC staff and related extensions for the convenience of the parties, Altria believes the FTC will complete its review in the first half of 2020. While conducting its review, on October 1, 2019, the FTC issued a Civil Investigative Demand to Altria seeking information regarding, among other things, Altria’s role in the resignation of JUUL’s former chief executive officer and the hiring by JUUL of any current or former Altria director, executive or employee.
Unless and until antitrust clearance is obtained, including expiration or termination of the waiting period under the HSR Act, our JUUL shares will not have voting rights and we will not be entitled to certain other rights, including the right to appoint any directors to the JUUL


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board of directors. Accordingly, failure to obtain antitrust clearance, including a successful litigation challenge by the FTC to the investment, would adversely affect us, including by substantially limiting our rights with respect to our investment in JUUL.
The expected benefits of the JUUL transaction may not materialize in the expected manner or timeframe or at all.
Regardless of whether antitrust clearance is obtained, the expected benefits of the JUUL transaction may not materialize in the expected manner or timeframe or at all, including due to the risks encountered by JUUL in its business, such as operational risks and regulatory risks at the international, federal, state and local levels, including actions by the FDA, and adverse publicity due to underage use of e-vapor products and other factors; unanticipated impacts on JUUL’s relationships with employees, customers, suppliers and other third parties; potential disruptions to JUUL’s management or current or future plans and operations; or domestic or international litigation developments, investigations, or otherwise. As discussed in Note 19, JUUL and Altria and/or its subsidiaries, including PM USA, are named as defendants in various individual and class action lawsuits. JUUL also is named in a significant number of additional individual and class action lawsuits to which neither Altria nor its subsidiaries is a party. See Tobacco Space - Business Environment in Item 7 for a discussion of certain FDA-related regulatory risks applicable to the e-vapor category, including the potential removal of certain e-vapor products from the market as a result of FDA enforcement action and the potential denial of new tobacco product applications for e-vapor products. Failure to realize the expected benefits of our JUUL investment could adversely affect the value of the investment.
As discussed in Note 7, in 2019, as part of the preparation of our financial statements for the periods ended September 30, 2019 and December 31, 2019, we performed valuations of our investment in JUUL. As a result, we determined that our investment in JUUL was impaired and recorded a total pre-tax impairment charge of $8.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2019, reported as impairment of JUUL equity securities in our consolidated statements of earnings. Of this amount, Altria recorded pre-tax charges of $4.5 billion in the third quarter of 2019 and $4.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. The third quarter impairment charge was due primarily to lower e-vapor sales volume assumptions in the U.S. and international markets and a delay in achieving operating margin performance, as compared to the assumptions at the time of the JUUL transaction. The fourth quarter impairment charge resulted substantially from increased discount rates applied to future cash flow projections, due to the increase in the number and type of legal cases pending against JUUL during the fourth quarter of 2019. While we believe the December 31, 2019 valuation of $4.2 billion is the appropriate current fair value of our investment, the risks identified in this paragraph, some of which are also further discussed in Note 19 and in Item 7. Tobacco Space - Business Environment, are ongoing with respect to the current fair value. If the fair value of our investment in JUUL continues to decrease, it could have a material adverse effect on Altria’s consolidated financial position or earnings.
Our investment in JUUL includes non-competition, standstill and transfer restrictions that prevent us from gaining control of JUUL. Furthermore, if we elect not to extend our non-competition obligations beyond December 20, 2024, we would lose certain of our governance, consent, preemptive and other rights with respect to our investment in JUUL.
The shares of JUUL we hold generally cannot be sold or otherwise transferred until December 20, 2024, subject to limited exceptions. We also generally agreed not to compete with JUUL in the e-vapor category until at least December 20, 2024, which may be extended at our election. If, however, JUUL is prohibited by federal law from selling e-vapor products in the U.S. for at least one year or if Altria’s carrying value of the JUUL investment is not more than 10% of its initial carrying value of $12.8 billion, we may compete with JUUL in the e-vapor category prior to December 20, 2024. In addition, following receipt of antitrust clearance, JUUL’s board of directors will include nine members, three of whom will be designated by Altria, including one independent designee. JUUL’s strategy and its material decisions are not and will not be controlled by us, and the terms of our agreements with JUUL mean that we are required to bear the risks associated with our investment in JUUL until at least December 20, 2024, subject to the exceptions mentioned above. Further, if we elect not to extend our non-competition obligations beyond that date, we would lose some or all of our board designation rights, preemptive rights, consent rights and other rights with respect to our investment in JUUL. Loss of these rights could adversely affect us by impairing our ability to influence JUUL.
Altria’s reported earnings from and carrying value of its equity investment in ABI and the dividends paid by ABI on shares owned by Altria may be adversely affected by various factors, including foreign currency exchange rates and ABI’s business results and stock price.
For purposes of financial reporting, the earnings from and carrying value of our equity investment in ABI are translated into U.S. dollars (“USD”) from various local currencies. In addition, ABI pays dividends in euros, which we convert into USD. During times of a strengthening USD against these currencies, our reported earnings from and carrying value of our equity investment in ABI will be reduced because these currencies will translate into fewer USD and the dividends that we receive from ABI will convert into fewer USD.
Dividends and earnings from and carrying value of our equity investment in ABI are also subject to the risks encountered by ABI in its business. For example, in October 2018, ABI announced a 50% rebase in the dividends it pays to its shareholders, which has resulted in a reduction of cash dividends Altria receives from ABI. In addition, if the carrying value of our investment in ABI exceeds its fair value and the loss in value is other than temporary, the investment is considered impaired, which would result in impairment losses and could have a material adverse effect on Altria’s consolidated financial position or earnings. We cannot provide any assurance that ABI will successfully execute its business plans and strategies. Earnings from and carrying value of our equity investment in ABI are also subject to fluctuations in ABI’s stock price, for example through mark-to-market losses on ABI’s derivative financial instruments used to hedge certain share commitments.


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We received a substantial portion of our consideration from the ABI Transaction in the form of restricted shares subject to a five-year lock-up. Furthermore, if our percentage ownership in ABI were to decrease below certain levels, we may be subject to additional tax liabilities, suffer a reduction in the number of directors that we can have appointed to the ABI Board of Directors and be unable to account for our investment under the equity method of accounting.
Upon completion of the ABI Transaction, we received a substantial portion of our consideration in the form of restricted shares that cannot be sold or transferred for a period of five years following the ABI Transaction, subject to limited exceptions. These transfer restrictions will require us to bear the risks associated with our investment in ABI for a five-year period that expires on October 10, 2021. Further, in the event that our ownership percentage in ABI were to decrease below certain levels, we may be subject to additional tax liabilities, the number of directors that we have the right to have appointed to the ABI board of directors could be reduced from two to one or zero and our use of the equity method of accounting for our investment in ABI could be challenged.
The tax treatment of the consideration Altria received in the ABI Transaction may be challenged and the tax treatment of the ABI investment may not be as favorable as Altria anticipates.
While we expect the equity consideration that we received from the ABI Transaction to qualify for tax-deferred treatment, we cannot provide any assurance that federal and state tax authorities will not challenge the expected tax treatment and, if they do, what the outcome of any such challenge will be. In addition, there is a risk that the tax treatment of our investment in ABI may not be as favorable as we anticipate.
The expected benefits of the Cronos transaction may not materialize in the expected manner or timeframe or at all.
In March 2019, we acquired common shares representing a 45% equity interest in Cronos, a warrant to acquire common shares representing an additional 10% equity interest in Cronos and anti-dilution protections to purchase Cronos shares to maintain our ownership percentage. There can be no assurance that we will realize the expected benefits of the Cronos transaction, including due to the risks encountered by Cronos in its business, such as operational risks and legal and regulatory risks; unanticipated impacts on Cronos’s relationships with third parties, its management, or its current or future plans and operations due to the Cronos transaction or other factors; or domestic or international litigation developments, tax disputes, investigations, or otherwise. Further, a failure by Cronos or Altria to comply with applicable laws, including cannabis laws, could result in criminal, civil or tax liability for Altria. If the carrying value of our investment in Cronos exceeds its fair value and the loss in value is other than temporary, the investment is considered impaired, which would result in impairment losses and could have a material adverse effect on Altria’s consolidated financial position or earnings.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
None.

Item 2. Properties.
At December 31, 2019, ALCS owned one property and leased a second in Richmond, Virginia. These properties serve as the headquarters facilities for Altria, PM USA, USSTC, Middleton and certain other subsidiaries.
At December 31, 2019, PM USA owned and operated a manufacturing facility located in Richmond, Virginia that PM USA uses in the manufacturing of cigarettes (smokeable products segment). PM USA leases portions of this facility to Middleton and USSTC for use in the manufacturing of cigars (smokeable products segment) and smokeless tobacco products, respectively. In addition, PM USA owned a research and technology center in Richmond, Virginia that is leased to ALCS.
At December 31, 2019, the smokeless products segment had various manufacturing and processing facilities, the most significant of which are located in in Nashville, Tennessee.
At December 31, 2019, the wine segment owned and operated various wine-making facilities in Washington, California and Oregon.
The plants and properties owned or leased and operated by Altria and its subsidiaries are maintained in good condition and are believed to be suitable and adequate for present needs.



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Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
The information required by this Item is included in Note 19 and Exhibits 99.1 and 99.2 to this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Altria’s consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes for the year ended December 31, 2019 were filed on Form 8-K on January 30, 2020 (such consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes are also included in Item 8). The following summarizes certain developments in Altria’s litigation since the filing of the Form 8-K.
Recent Developments
Engle Progeny Trial Results:
In Theis, in February 2020, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal denied PM USA’s petition for review. In the first quarter of 2020, PM USA recorded a pre-tax provision of approximately $17 million for the judgment plus interest and intends to pay this amount in the first quarter of 2020.
In Duignan, in February 2020, a Pinellas-County jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff and against PM USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company awarding approximately $3 million in compensatory damages. The jury also awarded $12 million in punitive damages against each defendant. PM USA intends to file post-trial motions.
In Freeman, in February 2020, the plaintiff withdrew the petition for review by the Florida Supreme Court of the verdict in favor of PM USA.
Non- Engle Progeny Trial Results:
In Principe, in February 2020, a Miami-Dade county jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff and against PM USA awarding approximately $11 million in compensatory damages. There was no claim for punitive damages.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.
Not applicable.


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Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Performance Graph
The graph below compares the cumulative total shareholder return of Altria’s common stock for the last five years with the cumulative total return for the same period of the S&P 500 Index, the S&P Food, Beverage and Tobacco Industry Group Total Return Index(1) and the Altria Peer Group.(2) The graph assumes the investment of $100 in common stock and each of the indices as of the market close on December 31, 2014 and the reinvestment of all dividends on a quarterly basis.
chart-d77ed0d69d1e5174a0c.jpg
Date
 
Altria
 
S&P Food, Beverage & Tobacco
 
Altria Peer Group
 
S&P 500
December 2014
 
$
100.00

 
$
100.00

 
$
100.00

 
$
100.00

December 2015
 
$
123.10

 
$
114.74

 
$
114.52

 
$
101.37

December 2016
 
$
148.29

 
$
124.79

 
$
122.19

 
$
113.49

December 2017
 
$
162.29

 
$
140.20

 
$
132.03

 
$
138.26

December 2018
 
$
118.33

 
$
119.28

 
$
125.88

 
$
132.19

December 2019
 
$
127.75

 
$
149.03

 
$
157.27

 
$
173.80

Source: Bloomberg - “Total Return Analysis” calculated on a daily basis and assumes reinvestment of dividends as of the ex-dividend date.
(1) To better align with comparable investment opportunities, Altria changed from the self-selected Altria Peer Group to the S&P Food, Beverage & Tobacco Industry Group Total Return Index for the year ended December 31, 2019. Both indices are presented, in accordance with SEC rules, which require that if a company selects a different index from that used in the immediately preceding fiscal year, the company’s stock performance must be compared against both the newly selected index and previous index in the year of change.
(2) In 2019, the Altria Peer Group consisted of U.S.-headquartered consumer product companies that are competitors to Altria’s operating companies subsidiaries or that have been selected on the basis of revenue or market capitalization: Campbell Soup Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Conagra Brands, Inc., General Mills, Inc., The Hershey Company, Kellogg Company, Keurig Dr Pepper Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation, The Kraft Heinz Company, Molson Coors Brewing Company, Mondelēz International, Inc. and PepsiCo, Inc.
On July 2, 2015, Kraft Foods Group, Inc. merged with and into a wholly owned subsidiary of H.J. Heinz Holding Corporation, which was renamed The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC). On November 9, 2016, ConAgra Foods, Inc. (CAG) spun off Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (LW) to its shareholders and then changed its name from ConAgra Foods, Inc. to Conagra Brands, Inc. (CAG).



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Market and Dividend Information
The principal stock exchange on which Altria’s common stock (par value $0.33 1/3 per share) is listed is the New York Stock Exchange under the trading symbol “MO”. At February 14, 2020, there were approximately 59,000 holders of record of Altria’s common stock.
Altria expects to continue to maintain a dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80% of its adjusted diluted earnings per share. Future dividend payments remain subject to the discretion of Altria’s Board of Directors (the “Board of Directors”).
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities During the Quarter Ended December 31, 2019
In July 2019, the Board of Directors authorized a new $1.0 billion share repurchase program (the “July 2019 share repurchase program”), which Altria expects to complete by the end of 2020. Share repurchases under this program depend upon marketplace conditions and other factors, and the program remains subject to the discretion of the Board of Directors.
Altria’s share repurchase activity for each of the three months in the period ended December 31, 2019, was as follows:
Period
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
 
Average Price Paid Per Share
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs
 
Approximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs
October 1- October 31, 2019
 
51

 
$
42.02

 

 
$
1,000,000,000

November 1- November 30, 2019
 
5,085,064

 
$
48.03

 
5,085,064

 
$
755,740,364

December 1- December 31, 2019
 
5,059,921

 
$
50.54

 
5,059,892

 
$
500,000,064

For the Quarter Ended December 31, 2019
 
10,145,036

 
$
49.29

 
10,144,956

 

(1) The total number of shares purchased includes (a) shares purchased under the July 2019 share repurchase program (which totaled 5,085,064 shares in November and 5,059,892 shares in December) and (b) shares withheld by Altria in an amount equal to the statutory withholding taxes for holders who vested in stock-based awards (which totaled 51 shares in October and 29 shares in December).

Item 6. Selected Financial Data.
(in millions of dollars, except per share data)
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
Net revenues
$
25,110

 
$
25,364

 
$
25,576

 
$
25,744

 
$
25,434

Net earnings (losses) (1)(2)(3)
(1,298
)
 
6,967

 
10,227

 
14,244

 
5,243

Net earnings (losses) attributable to Altria (1)(2)(3)
(1,293
)
 
6,963

 
10,222

 
14,239

 
5,241

Basic EPS — net earnings (losses) attributable to Altria (1)(2)(3)(4)
(0.70
)
 
3.69

 
5.31

 
7.28

 
2.67

Diluted EPS — net earnings (losses) attributable to Altria (1)(2)(3)(4)
(0.70
)
 
3.68

 
5.31

 
7.28

 
2.67

Dividends declared per share
3.28

 
3.00

 
2.54

 
2.35

 
2.17

Total assets (1)(3)(5)(6)
49,271

 
55,459

 
43,034

 
45,764

 
31,296

Long-term debt (5)
27,042

 
11,898

 
13,030

 
13,881

 
12,843

Total debt (5)
28,042

 
25,746

 
13,894

 
13,881

 
12,847

(1) Certain 2019 amounts include the impact of Altria’s impairment of its JUUL equity securities and the loss on Cronos-related financial instruments. For further discussion, see Note 7.
(2) Certain 2019, 2018 and 2017 amounts include the impact of the enactment of the Tax Reform Act. For further discussion, see Note 15. Income Taxes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 (“Note 15”).
(3) Certain 2016 amounts include the impact of the gain on the ABI/SABMiller business combination. For further discussion, see Note 7.
(4) “EPS” is defined as basic and diluted earnings (losses) per share.
(5) Certain 2019 and 2018 amounts include the impact of Altria’s investments in JUUL and Cronos. For further discussion, see Note 7, Note 9. Short-Term Borrowings and Borrowing Arrangements to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 (“Note 9”) and Note 10. Long-Term Debt to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 (“Note 10”).
(6) Certain immaterial prior year amounts have been adjusted to conform with the current year’s presentation.
The Selected Financial Data should be read in conjunction with Item 7 and Item 8.


Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with the other sections of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the consolidated financial statements and related notes contained in Item 8, and the discussion of risk factors that may affect future results in Item 1A.
Description of the Company
For a description of Altria, see Item 1. Business, and Background in Note 1.


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Altria’s reportable segments are smokeable products, smokeless products and wine. The financial services and the innovative tobacco products businesses are included in an all other category due to the continued reduction of the lease portfolio of PMCC and the relative financial contribution of Altria’s innovative tobacco products businesses to Altria’s consolidated results.
Effective with the first quarter of 2020, Altria’s smokeless products segment will be renamed as the oral tobacco products segment. Altria’s oral tobacco products segment will include financial results, volume and retail share performance from USSTC’s core MST and snus businesses and Helix’s on! oral nicotine pouches. Prior period volume and retail share data will be updated to reflect these changes.

Executive Summary
Consolidated Results of Operations
The changes in Altria’s net earnings (losses) and diluted EPS attributable to Altria for the year ended December 31, 2019, from the year ended December 31, 2018, were due primarily to the following:
(in millions, except per share data)
Net Earnings

 
Diluted EPS

For the year ended December 31, 2018
$
6,963

 
$
3.68

2018 NPM Adjustment Items
(109
)
 
(0.06
)
2018 Asset impairment, exit, implementation and acquisition-related costs
432

 
0.23

2018 Tobacco and health litigation items
98

 
0.05

2018 ABI-related special items
(68
)
 
(0.03
)
2018 (Gain) loss on ABI/SABMiller business combination
26

 
0.01

2018 Tax items
197

 
0.11

Subtotal 2018 special items
576

 
0.31

2019 Asset impairment, exit, implementation and acquisition-related costs
(269
)
 
(0.15
)
2019 Tobacco and health litigation items
(58
)
 
(0.03
)
2019 Impairment of JUUL equity securities
(8,600
)
 
(4.60
)
2019 ABI-related special items
280

 
0.15

2019 Cronos-related special items
(640
)
 
(0.34
)
2019 Tax items
99

 
0.05

Subtotal 2019 special items
(9,188
)
 
(4.92
)
Fewer shares outstanding

 
0.04

Change in tax rate
(65
)
 
(0.03
)
Operations
421

 
0.22

For the year ended December 31, 2019
$
(1,293
)
 
$
(0.70
)
See the discussion of events affecting the comparability of statement of earnings (losses) amounts in the Consolidated Operating Results section of the following Discussion and Analysis.
Fewer Shares Outstanding: Fewer shares outstanding during 2019 compared with 2018 were due primarily to shares repurchased by Altria under its share repurchase programs.
Change in Tax Rate: The change in tax rate was driven primarily by lower dividends from ABI.
Operations: The increase of $421 million in operations shown in the table above was due primarily to the following:
higher income from the smokeable and smokeless products segments;
lower spending as a result of Altria’s decision in 2018 to refocus its innovative product efforts; and
higher earnings from Altria’s equity investment in ABI;
partially offset by higher interest and other debt expense, net, due to debt incurred in connection with the Cronos and JUUL transactions.
For further details, see the Consolidated Operating Results and Operating Results by Business Segment sections of the following Discussion and Analysis.
2020 Forecasted Results
Altria forecasts that its 2020 full-year adjusted diluted EPS growth rate is expected to be in the range of 4% to 7% over its 2019 full-year adjusted diluted EPS base of $4.22, as shown in the table below. Altria’s 2020 guidance reflects increased investments related to PM USA’s


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commercialization efforts for IQOS, Helix’s plans to manufacture and expand U.S. distribution of on! and one extra shipping day in the first quarter of 2020.
This forecasted growth rate excludes estimated per share charges in 2020 of $0.05 for tax expense, representing a partial reversal of the tax basis benefit recorded in 2017 attributable to the deemed repatriation tax related to Altria’s investment in ABI. For further discussion, see Note 15.
Altria expects its 2020 full-year adjusted effective tax rate will be in a range of 23.5% to 24.5%.
Reconciliation of 2019 Reported Diluted EPS to 2019 Adjusted Diluted EPS
2019 Reported diluted EPS
$
(0.70
)
Asset impairment, exit, implementation and acquisition-related costs
0.15

Tobacco and health litigation items
0.03

Impairment of JUUL equity securities
4.60

ABI-related special items
(0.15
)
Cronos-related special items
0.34

Tax items
(0.05
)
2019 Adjusted diluted EPS
$
4.22

Altria’s full-year adjusted diluted EPS guidance and full-year forecast for its adjusted effective tax rate exclude the impact of certain income and expense items that management believes are not part of underlying operations. These items may include, for example, restructuring charges, asset impairment charges, acquisition-related costs, equity investment-related special items (including any changes in fair value for the equity investment and any related warrants and preemptive rights), certain tax items, charges associated with tobacco and health litigation items, and resolutions of certain non-participating manufacturer (“NPM”) adjustment disputes under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (such dispute resolutions are referred to as “NPM Adjustment Items” and are more fully described in Health Care Cost Recovery Litigation - NPM Adjustment Disputes in Note 19).
Altria’s management cannot estimate on a forward-looking basis the impact of certain income and expense items, including those items noted in the preceding paragraph, on Altria’s reported diluted EPS and its reported effective tax rate because these items, which could be significant, may be unusual or infrequent, are difficult to predict and may be highly variable. As a result, Altria does not provide a corresponding United States generally accepted accounting principles (“U.S. GAAP”) measure for, or reconciliation to, its adjusted diluted EPS guidance or its adjusted effective tax rate forecast.
The factors described in Item 1A represent continuing risks to this forecast.
While Altria reports its financial results in accordance with U.S. GAAP, its management reviews certain financial results, including diluted EPS, on an adjusted basis, which excludes certain income and expense items, including those items noted above. Altria’s management does not view any of these special items to be part of Altria’s underlying results as they may be highly variable, may be unusual or infrequent, are difficult to predict and can distort underlying business trends and results. Altria’s management also reviews income tax rates on an adjusted basis. Altria’s adjusted effective tax rate may exclude certain tax items from its reported effective tax rate. Altria’s management believes that adjusted financial measures provide useful additional insight into underlying business trends and results and provide a more meaningful comparison of year-over-year results. Adjusted financial measures are used by management and regularly provided to Altria’s chief operating decision maker (the “CODM”) for planning, forecasting and evaluating business and financial performance, including allocating resources and evaluating results relative to employee compensation targets. These adjusted financial measures are not consistent with U.S. GAAP and may not be calculated the same as similarly titled measures used by other companies. These adjusted financial measures should thus be considered as supplemental in nature and not considered in isolation or as a substitute for the related financial information prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP.
Discussion and Analysis
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Note 2 includes a summary of the significant accounting policies and methods used in the preparation of Altria’s consolidated financial statements. In most instances, Altria must use an accounting policy or method because it is the only policy or method permitted under U.S. GAAP.
The preparation of financial statements includes the use of estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, the disclosure of contingent liabilities at the dates of the financial statements and the reported amounts of net revenues and expenses during the reporting periods. If actual amounts are ultimately different from previous estimates, the revisions are included in Altria’s consolidated results of operations for the period in which the actual amounts become known. Historically, the aggregate differences, if any, between Altria’s estimates and actual amounts in any year have not had a significant impact on its consolidated financial statements.


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The following is a review of the more significant assumptions and estimates, as well as the accounting policies and methods, used in the preparation of Altria’s consolidated financial statements:
Consolidation: The consolidated financial statements include Altria, as well as its wholly-owned and majority-owned subsidiaries. Investments in which Altria currently has the ability to exercise significant influence over the operating and financial policies of the investee are accounted for under the equity method of accounting. Equity investments in which Altria does not have the ability to exercise significant influence over the operating and financial policies of the investee are accounted for as an investment in an equity security. All intercompany transactions and balances have been eliminated.
Upon antitrust clearance, Altria expects to account for its equity method investment in JUUL using the fair value option. Under the fair value option, Altria’s consolidated statements of earnings (losses) will include any cash dividends from its investment in JUUL and any changes in the fair value of its investment, which will be calculated quarterly. Altria believes the fair value option provides quarterly transparency to investors as to the fair market value of Altria’s investment in JUUL, given the changes and volatility in the e-vapor category since Altria’s initial investment, as well as the lack of publicly available information regarding JUUL’s business or a market-derived valuation.
Revenue Recognition: Altria’s businesses generate substantially all of their revenue from sales contracts with customers. While Altria’s businesses enter into separate sales contracts with each customer for each product type, all sales contracts are similarly structured. These contracts create an obligation to transfer product to the customer. All performance obligations are satisfied within one year; therefore, costs to obtain contracts are expensed as incurred and unsatisfied performance obligations are not disclosed. There is no financing component because Altria’s businesses expect, at contract inception, that the period between when Altria’s businesses transfer product to the customer and when the customer pays for that product will be one year or less.
Altria’s businesses define net revenues as revenues, which include excise taxes and shipping and handling charges billed to customers, net of cash discounts for prompt payment, sales returns (also referred to as returned goods) and sales incentives. Altria’s businesses exclude from the transaction price sales taxes and value-added taxes imposed at the time of sale (which do not include excise taxes on cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco or wine billed to customers).
Altria’s businesses recognize revenues from sales contracts with customers upon shipment of goods when control of such products is obtained by the customer. Altria’s businesses determine that a customer obtains control of the product upon shipment when title of such product and risk of loss transfers to the customer. Altria’s businesses account for shipping and handling costs as fulfillment costs and such amounts are classified as part of cost of sales in Altria’s consolidated statements of earnings. Altria’s businesses record an allowance for returned goods, based principally on historical volume and return rates, which is included in other accrued liabilities on Altria’s consolidated balance sheets. Altria’s businesses record sales incentives, which consist of consumer incentives and trade promotion activities, as a reduction to revenues (a portion of which is based on amounts estimated as being due to wholesalers, retailers and consumers at the end of a period) based principally on historical volume, utilization and redemption rates. Expected payments for sales incentives are included in accrued marketing liabilities on Altria’s consolidated balance sheets.
Payment terms vary depending on product type. Altria’s businesses consider payments received in advance of product shipment as deferred revenue, which is included in other accrued liabilities on Altria’s consolidated balance sheets until revenue is recognized. PM USA receives payment in advance of a customer obtaining control of the product. USSTC receives substantially all payments within one business day of the customer obtaining control of the product. Ste. Michelle receives substantially all payments from customers within 45 days of the customer obtaining control of the product. Amounts due from customers are included in receivables on Altria’s consolidated balance sheets.
For further discussion, see Note 3. Revenues from Contracts with Customers to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8.
Depreciation, Amortization, Impairment Testing and Asset Valuation: Altria depreciates property, plant and equipment and amortizes its definite-lived intangible assets using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets. Machinery and equipment are depreciated over periods up to 25 years, and buildings and building improvements over periods up to 50 years. Definite-lived intangible assets are amortized over their estimated useful lives up to 25 years.
Altria reviews long-lived assets, including definite-lived intangible assets, for impairment whenever events or changes in business circumstances indicate that the carrying value of the assets may not be fully recoverable. Altria performs undiscounted operating cash flow analyses to determine if an impairment exists. These analyses are affected by general economic conditions and projected growth rates. For purposes of recognition and measurement of an impairment for assets held for use, Altria groups assets and liabilities at the lowest level for which cash flows are separately identifiable. If Altria determines that an impairment exists, any related impairment loss is calculated based on fair value. Impairment losses on assets to be disposed of, if any, are based on the estimated proceeds to be received, less costs of disposal. Altria also reviews the estimated remaining useful lives of long-lived assets whenever events or changes in business circumstances indicate the lives may have changed.
Altria conducts a required annual review of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets for potential impairment, and more frequently if an event occurs or circumstances change that would require Altria to perform an interim review. If the carrying value of a reporting unit that includes goodwill exceeds its fair value, which is determined using discounted cash flows, goodwill is considered impaired. The amount of impairment loss is measured as the difference between the carrying value and the fair value of a reporting unit, but is limited to the total


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amount of goodwill allocated to a reporting unit. If the carrying value of an indefinite-lived intangible asset exceeds its fair value, which is determined using discounted cash flows, the intangible asset is considered impaired and is reduced to fair value in the period identified.
Goodwill by reporting unit and indefinite-lived intangible assets at December 31, 2019 were as follows:
(in millions)
Goodwill

 
Indefinite-Lived
Intangible Assets

Cigarettes
$
22

 
$
2

Smokeless products
5,078

 
8,801

Cigars
77

 
2,640

Wine

 
233

Total
$
5,177

 
$
11,676

During 2019, Altria completed its quantitative annual impairment test of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets performed as of October 1, 2019. Upon completion of this testing, Altria concluded that the goodwill of $74 million in the wine segment was fully impaired as the wine reporting unit was impacted by a slowing growth rate in the premium wine category and higher inventories. In performing the 2019 quantitative annual impairment test for the wine reporting unit, Altria concluded that the fair value of the unit as a whole was approximately 25% below its carrying value of approximately $1.5 billion after the impairment charge discussed above. Altria also evaluated all wine reporting unit assets, including current assets, property, plant and equipment, and other long-lived assets other than goodwill and concluded that these assets were fairly stated at December 31, 2019.
The results of the 2019 quantitative annual impairment test of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets for the other reporting units and trademarks are indicated below.
The estimated fair values of the cigarettes and cigars reporting units and the indefinite-lived intangible assets within the cigars reporting unit substantially exceeded their carrying values.
The estimated fair values of the smokeless products reporting unit and the indefinite-lived intangible assets within the reporting unit substantially exceeded their carrying values, with the exception of the Skoal trademark. At December 31, 2019, the estimated fair value of the Skoal trademark exceeded its carrying value of $3.9 billion by approximately 18%. Skoal continues to be impacted by slowing category volumes and increased competitive activities due to higher pricing and adult tobacco consumer movement among tobacco products, including oral nicotine pouch products.
The estimated fair values of the indefinite-lived intangible assets within the wine reporting unit substantially exceeded their carrying values, with the exception of the Patz & Hall trademark, which at December 31, 2019, exceeded its carrying value of $30 million by approximately 11%.
During 2018, Altria’s quantitative annual impairment test of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets resulted in $54 million of impairment charges. During 2017, Altria’s quantitative annual impairment test of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets resulted in no impairment charges.
In 2019, Altria used an income approach to estimate the fair values of all of its reporting units and indefinite-lived intangible assets. The income approach reflects the discounting of expected future cash flows to their present value at a rate of return that incorporates the risk-free rate for the use of those funds, the expected rate of inflation and the risks associated with realizing expected future cash flows. The weighted-average discount rate used in performing the valuations was approximately 10%.
In performing the 2019 discounted cash flow analysis, Altria made various judgments, estimates and assumptions, the most significant of which were volume, income, growth rates and discount rates. The analysis incorporated assumptions used in Altria’s long-term financial forecast, which is used by Altria’s management to evaluate business and financial performance, including allocating resources and evaluating results relative to setting employee compensation targets. The assumptions incorporated the highest and best use of Altria’s indefinite-lived intangible assets and also included perpetual growth rates for periods beyond the long-term financial forecast. The perpetual growth rate used in performing all of the valuations was 2%. Fair value calculations are sensitive to changes in these estimates and assumptions, some of which relate to broader macroeconomic conditions outside of Altria’s control.
Although Altria’s discounted cash flow analysis is based on assumptions that are considered reasonable and based on the best available information at the time that the discounted cash flow analysis is developed, there is significant judgment used in determining future cash flows. The following factors have the most potential to impact expected future cash flows and, therefore, Altria’s impairment conclusions: general economic conditions; federal, state and local regulatory developments; category growth rates; consumer preferences; success of planned product expansions; competitive activity; and income and tobacco-related taxes. For further discussion of these factors, see Operating Results by Business Segment - Tobacco Space - Business Environment below.
While Altria’s management believes that the estimated fair values of each reporting unit and indefinite-lived intangible asset are reasonable, actual performance in the short-term or long-term could be significantly different from forecasted performance, which could result in impairment charges in future periods.


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For further discussion of goodwill and other intangible assets, see Note 4.
Investments in ABI and Cronos
Altria reviews its equity investments accounted for under the equity method of accounting (ABI and Cronos) for impairment on a quarterly basis in connection with the preparation of its financial statements by comparing the fair value of each of its investments to their carrying value. If the carrying value of an investment exceeds its fair value and the loss in value is other than temporary, the investment is considered impaired and reduced to fair value, and the impairment is recognized in the period identified. The factors used to make this determination include the duration and magnitude of the fair value decline, the financial condition and near-term prospects of the investee, and Altria’s intent and ability to hold its investment until recovery.
The fair value of Altria’s equity investment in ABI at December 31, 2019 and 2018 was $16.1 billion (carrying value of $18.1 billion) and $13.1 billion (carrying value of $17.7 billion), respectively, which was less than its carrying value by 11% and 26%, respectively, at December 31, 2019 and 2018. During 2019, the fair value increased and at September 30, 2019, the fair value of Altria’s equity investment in ABI exceeded its carrying value by 4%. In October 2019, the fair value of Altria’s equity investment in ABI declined below its carrying value. At February 24, 2020, the fair value of Altria’s equity investment in ABI was approximately $13.7 billion (approximately 24% below its carrying value). Altria concluded that the decline in fair value of its investment in ABI below its carrying value is temporary and, therefore, no impairment was recorded. This conclusion is based on: (i) the fair value of Altria’s equity investment in ABI having historically exceeded its carrying value since October 2016, when Altria obtained its ownership interest in ABI, with the exception of certain periods starting in September 2018; (ii) the period of time that ABI shares have traded below Altria’s carrying value (although ABI shares began to trade below Altria’s carrying value in September 2018, the fair value of ABI’s shares have exceeded Altria’s carrying value as recently as September 30, 2019) and the magnitude by which the carrying value of Altria’s investment in ABI exceeds its fair value; (iii) ABI’s global platform (world’s largest brewer by volume and one of the world’s top five consumer products companies by revenue) with strong market positions in key markets, geographic diversification, experienced management team, financial condition, expected earnings and history of performance; and (iv) Altria’s ownership of restricted shares being subject to a five-year lock-up (subject to limited exceptions) ending October 10, 2021, which Altria believes provides sufficient time to allow for an anticipated recovery in the fair value of its investment in ABI.
If Altria were to conclude that the decline in fair value is other than temporary, Altria would determine and recognize, in the period identified, the impairment of its investment, which could result in a material adverse effect on Altria’s consolidated financial position or earnings.
The fair value of Altria’s acquired common shares in Cronos at December 31, 2019 was $1.2 billion compared with its carrying value of $1.0 billion. At February 24, 2020, the fair value of Altria’s acquired common shares in Cronos was approximately $1.0 billion (which approximates its carrying value). Altria will continue to assess the fair value of its acquired common shares in Cronos to determine if any decline in fair value below its carrying value is other than temporary.
For further discussion of Altria’s investments in ABI and Cronos, see Note 7.
Investment in JUUL
Altria reviews its investment in JUUL for impairment by performing a qualitative assessment of impairment indicators on a quarterly basis in connection with the preparation of its financial statements. If this qualitative assessment indicates that Altria’s investment in JUUL may be impaired, a quantitative assessment is performed. If the quantitative assessment indicates the fair value of the investment is less than its carrying value, the investment is written down to its fair value, and the impairment is recognized in the period identified.
As part of the preparation of its financial statements for the periods ended September 30, 2019 and December 31, 2019, Altria performed its respective qualitative assessments of impairment indicators for its investment in JUUL and determined that indicators of impairment existed.
At September 30, 2019, these indicators included recent significant adverse changes in both the e-vapor regulatory environment and the industry in which JUUL operates. At December 31, 2019, Altria determined that a significant increase in the number and types of legal cases pending against JUUL in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the expectation that this trend will continue resulted in an additional indicator of impairment.
Given the existence of these impairment indicators, Altria performed quantitative valuations of its investment in JUUL as of September 30, 2019 and December 31, 2019 and recorded total pre-tax charges of $8.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2019, reported as impairment of JUUL equity securities in its consolidated statement of earnings (losses). Of this amount, Altria recorded pre-tax charges of $4.5 billion in the third quarter of 2019 and $4.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. The third-quarter impairment charge was due primarily to lower e-vapor sales volume assumptions in the U.S. and international markets and a delay in achieving operating margin performance, as compared to the assumptions at the time of the JUUL Transaction. The fourth-quarter impairment charge results substantially from increased discount rates applied to future cash flow projections, due to the significant risk created by the increase in number and types of legal cases pending against JUUL in the fourth quarter. Although Altria has not made any assumptions or drawn any conclusions regarding the merits or likelihood of success of any of any of these cases, litigation is subject to uncertainty, and it is possible that there could be adverse developments in pending or future cases. While JUUL secured approximately $720 million in financing in early February 2020, the uncertainty has


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increased the risk that JUUL may not be able to obtain financing and/or fund working capital requirements, financial obligations and international expansion plans.
Altria used an income approach to estimate the fair value of its investment in JUUL. The income approach reflects the discounting of future cash flows for the U.S. and international markets at a rate of return that incorporates the risk-free rate for the use of those funds, the expected rate of inflation and the risks associated with realizing future cash flows. Future cash flows in the U.S. were based on a range of scenarios that consider various potential regulatory and market outcomes.
In determining the fair value of its investment in JUUL, Altria made various judgments, estimates and assumptions, the most significant of which were sales volume, operating margins, discount rates and perpetual growth rates. The discount rates used in performing the valuations ranged from 13.5% to 16.5% at September 30, 2019 and 19.5% to 23.0% at December 31, 2019. The perpetual growth rates used in performing the valuations ranged from (0.5%) to 0.0% at both September 30, 2019 and December 31, 2019. Additionally, Altria made significant assumptions regarding the likelihood and extent of various potential regulatory actions and the continued adverse public perception impacting the e-vapor category and specifically JUUL, as well as expectations of the future state of the e-vapor category. All significant inputs used in the valuation are classified in Level 3 of the fair value hierarchy.
Although Altria’s discounted cash flow analyses were based on assumptions that Altria’s management considered reasonable and are based on the best available information at the time that the analyses were developed, there is significant judgment used in determining future cash flows. Altria believes the following factors have the most potential to impact projected future cash flows and, therefore, Altria’s valuation of JUUL: federal, state, local and international regulatory developments; JUUL’s execution of its strategy, including the success of its planned international market expansions; category growth rates; e-vapor-related litigation against JUUL; consumer preferences; and competitive activity.
While Altria’s management believes that the estimated fair value of its investment in JUUL as of December 31, 2019 is appropriate, JUUL’s actual performance in the short term or long term could be significantly different from forecasted performance due to changes in the factors noted above. One or more such changes could result in additional impairment charges to Altria’s investment in JUUL in future periods.
For additional information on Altria’s investment in JUUL and the impairment indicators that Altria considered, see Note 7. Investments in Equity Securities - Investment in JUUL.
Marketing Costs: Altria’s businesses promote their products with consumer incentives, trade promotions and consumer engagement programs. These consumer incentive and trade promotion activities, which include discounts, coupons, rebates, in-store display incentives and volume-based incentives, do not create a distinct deliverable and are, therefore, recorded as a reduction of revenues. Consumer engagement program payments are made to third parties. Altria’s businesses expense these consumer engagement programs, which include event marketing, as incurred and such expenses are included in marketing, administration and research costs in Altria’s consolidated statements of earnings (losses). For interim reporting purposes, Altria’s businesses charge consumer engagement programs and certain consumer incentive expenses to operations as a percentage of sales, based on estimated sales and related expenses for the full year.
Contingencies: As discussed in Note 19 and Item 3, legal proceedings covering a wide range of matters are pending or threatened in various U.S. and foreign jurisdictions against Altria and its subsidiaries, including PM USA and UST and its subsidiaries, as well as their respective indemnitees and Altria’s investees. In 1998, PM USA and certain other U.S. tobacco product manufacturers entered into the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (the “MSA”) with 46 states and various other governments and jurisdictions to settle asserted and unasserted health care cost recovery and other claims. PM USA and certain other U.S. tobacco product manufacturers had previously entered into agreements to settle similar claims brought by Mississippi, Florida, Texas and Minnesota (together with the MSA, the “State Settlement Agreements”). PM USA’s portion of ongoing adjusted payments and legal fees is based on its relative share of the settling manufacturers’ domestic cigarette shipments, including roll-your-own cigarettes, in the year preceding that in which the payment is due. In addition, PM USA, Middleton, Nat Sherman and USSTC are subject to quarterly user fees imposed by the FDA as a result of the FSPTCA. Payments under the State Settlement Agreements and the FDA user fees are based on variable factors, such as volume, operating income, market share and inflation, depending on the subject payment. Altria’s subsidiaries account for the cost of the State Settlement Agreements and FDA user fees as a component of cost of sales. Altria’s subsidiaries recorded approximately $4.5 billion, $4.5 billion and $4.7 billion of charges to cost of sales for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively, in connection with the State Settlement Agreements and FDA user fees.
Altria and its subsidiaries record provisions in the consolidated financial statements for pending litigation when they determine that an unfavorable outcome is probable and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated. At the present time, while it is reasonably possible that an unfavorable outcome in a case may occur, except to the extent discussed in Note 19 and Item 3: (i) management has concluded that it is not probable that a loss has been incurred in any of the pending tobacco-related cases; (ii) management is unable to estimate the possible loss or range of loss that could result from an unfavorable outcome in any of the pending tobacco-related cases; and (iii) accordingly, management has not provided any amounts in the consolidated financial statements for unfavorable outcomes, if any. Litigation defense costs are expensed as incurred and included in marketing, administration and research costs in the consolidated statements of earnings (losses).
Employee Benefit Plans: Altria provides a range of benefits to certain employees and retired employees, including pension, postretirement health care and postemployment benefits. Altria records annual amounts relating to these plans based on calculations specified


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by U.S. GAAP, which include various actuarial assumptions as to discount rates, assumed rates of return on plan assets, mortality, compensation increases, turnover rates and health care cost trend rates. Altria reviews its actuarial assumptions on an annual basis and makes modifications to the assumptions based on current rates and trends when it is deemed appropriate to do so. Any effect of the modifications is generally amortized over future periods.
Altria recognizes the funded status of its defined benefit pension and other postretirement plans on the consolidated balance sheet and records as a component of other comprehensive earnings (losses), net of deferred income taxes, the gains or losses and prior service costs or credits that have not been recognized as components of net periodic benefit cost. The gains or losses and prior service costs or credits recorded as components of other comprehensive earnings (